Knights of the Old Republic: Simplistic perfection

Written by 4gateftw on Tue, Mar 17, 2015 3:31 AM
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My personal favorite

When I started to write reviews, I knew I would eventually review Knights of the Old Republic. It is, after all, my favorite video game ever without a doubt, and currently only 10$ on Steam and GoG, which is amazing value. There. Go buy it now. What's that? You want me to tell you why? *sigh* FINE.

 

Welcome to Star Wars, 4000 years before the films

Knights of the Old Republic is a 2003 RPG made by Bioware. It is set in the Star Wars universe 4000 years before the movies, in a time when the republic and the jedi are still in power, but are at war with a very well armed Sith controlled faction. You are allowed to create your own character, male or female, and jump right in. It's a fairly simple premise, and it works well in that it draws you in to a familiar universe without overwhelming you from the outset with a myriad of plot points coughDragon Agecough and intrigues you from the beginning. Character creation is easy and fast, and the recommended builds are actually very good, making the process less confusing for first time players. The three classes, soldier, scoundrel, and scout (also known as the class nobody plays) are all well balanced and interesting to play in their own ways. 

 

Gameplay

Gameplay in Knights of the Old Republic is a very interesting sort of old fashioned CRPG gameplay, but it has a dash of modern influence to go along with it. Just like an old-fashioned CRPG (and indeed this game plays a lot like some versions of DnD), the game rolls 20 sided dice to determine whether you hit your target or not based on the targets armor value, and these dice rolls can be modified by various factors, largely to do with your character's various stats. I've played this game far too much, and could probably explain every aspect of how the dice rolls and rules work, but instead I'll just tell you this: combat is extremely enjoyable, and not as archaic as it sounds. Once you play the game for a few hours, you're going to start to understand the way the dice rolls work, especially if you're familiar with CRPGs already. It's not that complicated. Furthermore, the combat is not nearly as inaccessible as something like, say, Baldur's Gate, because KotOR gives you some hints right from the outset, and makes it very obvious by simply reading the text that comes with stats what the stats do, which means it's very easy to understand how the dice rolls work. This makes the RPG experience extremely satisfying, since anyone can understand the rules well enough to make informed character decisions and be fluent in their various abilities in combat. 

 

 

The accessibility is helped even more by the fact that the game is played from a third person perspective, and that you directly control the characters you have selected. In combat, you can have a party of three characters, all which you can select, but you can only have one selected at a time. This is an area where I think the CRPG experience is streamlined in a good way. The simplicity of only selecting one character at a time, and selecting them by simply clicking on their portrait at the bottom of the screen makes the combat a much less confusing, hectic experience than some other CRPGs, the use of a pause mechanic is also very helpful, since it allows players to plan their actions ahead of time in combat. All in all, KotOR strikes a balance between something like Baldur's Gate and something like Dragon Age. The combat isn't the ultra hardcore DnD combat of something like Baldur's Gate, but it's also not the MMO like combat of something like Dragon Age. The use of various force powers and combat abilities makes the combat a very interesting thing to play, especially since all of those abilities are very situational, and need to be used wisely to balance things like accuracy of attacks, or force energy. This makes the combat not the death fest that is old CRPGs, and not the spamming abilities that is Dragon Age, it's a perfect balance between those two styles that makes for a much more enjoyable and satisfying experience. 

 

Plot

While KoTOR's gameplay is certainly excellent, I think the game's biggest selling points should be it's main plot and it's sidequests. The main plot is one of the best stories I have ever experienced in a video game. It's true that it's not the most complex of stories, however sometimes a simple plot can be a good thing. KoTOR conveys it's simple plot in a way that invests you greatly, and also presents a cast of strong characters. I know I'll never forget Carth or Zaalbar, and I'll never be tired of HK-47, who in my opinion ranks up there with the funniest characters ever in a video game. Bioware really seems to understand the importance of attaching you to characters, something that has to be understood to make a solid plot, because without strong characters, your plot doesn't matter. Nobody will care. I will say no more, because it would be a crime to spoil this game's plot at all, but know that once you play KoTOR, you won't ever forge it, and it is well worth finishing for the pay off.

This is not to say however, that the main plot is flawless, nor that there are no weak characters. The morality system that Bioware implemented is very much black and white, and more to the point your choices actually matter very little with regards to the ending. It's not that they don't matter when you make them, it's just that the ending itself is a choice that you can make without caring about what you did in the past. You could be the best person ever and rescue womp rats from trees up to the ending, but if you want you can still make the "bad" choice. This is seriously an immersion breaker if you decide to go that way. Some characters are also very flat and don't have that much to them, with predictable arcs. Where Canderous is surprising, Bastilla is predictable. Where Zaalbar's backstory is sorrowful, Mission's is standard and lifeless. Fortunately, the number of interesting characters outnumber the flat ones by far, but it still kind of sucks that any exist at all. 

All that being said, one thing I do like about the morality system is that it influences your gameplay. It's a nice touch that being a dark jedi in morality also means that you're really good at running around electrocuting people with force lightning. This has the unfortunate side-effect of making the moral choices exploitable however, since most of the best powers are hard to use unless you're a morally reprehensible (but hilariously evil) dark jedi. 

Side-quests

Side-quests are something I like a lot about KoTOR. There's just so much variety! There are pretty standard bounty quests where you get a target and have to go find and kill them of course, but even those normally involve a back-story to the target. Other quests, like the murder case you take on late in the game, have an actual complex plot, and require some brain-work to get right. I like Bioware's design a lot here, although some quests require a lot of backtracking, which makes for a lot of unneeded downtime. 

 

Technical Aspects

I won't be saying much about the graphics, except that you should download a program called Flawless Widescreen, which will allow you to play in modern resolutions. Voice acting is the main issue here, and it's quite good, for the most part. Some of the characters, primarily Bastilla and Juhani, have weak actors behind them, but most of the other ones are quite good. Carth in particular is played extremely well. 

 

 

Conclusion

Knights of The Old Republic is the best game ever made, in my opinion. The reason for this is not because it is the best plot ever in a game. Telltale beats it's plot pretty much every year. It is, in my opinion, the best gameplay ever in an RPG, but it is not the best gameplay ever. What it does is meld top-notch RPG gameplay with an amazing plot that will grip you and attach you to it's unforgettable characters. This makes it the best game ever, in my opinion. Many people will probably disagree with this assessment. In fact, a lot of people think KoTOR 2 is a better game. I will explain why I disagree with that opinion when I review KoTOR 2. For now, I will simply state that Knights of The Old Republic is an amazing deal at ten dollars and something every gamer should experience. I recommend it without hesitation.

 

Please feel free to leave your opinion in the comments. Thank you for reading.

  

 

 

 

Pros

  • Amazing plot
  • Fantastic characters
  • Best gameplay ever in an RPG

Cons

  • Somewhat simplistic plot
  • Black and white morals
  • Choices not relevant to ending
Score

10

Perfect

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18:23 Mar-24-2015

This will forever be one of my top favorite games I've ever played :)

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10:24 Mar-19-2015

Please do the Sith Lords if you have played it too :)

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16:49 Mar-19-2015

I have, and I will. I just need to get around to replaying it, it's been a while since I played it, and I don't feel that I can give an accurate assessment until I refresh my memory, at the moment I barely remember the plot.

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20:49 Mar-17-2015

You can't have a list of cons and give the game 10/10 -_-

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04:49 Mar-18-2015

I give games rating based on how good they are in their genres. IMO KotOR is the best RPG currently in existence, therefore it gets a ten. A perfect game does not exist.


EDIT: Though in truth this is really just an example of how obsolete scores are. I just try to stick with the Ebert principle of scores being a reflection of how good something is in it's space, and make them as useful as they can be.

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